“No one’s perfect,” I whisper. “It doesn’t work that way. One bad thing goes away, and another bad thing replaces it.”

Finally, after being pressured when the book first came out and then when the movie came out, and waiting a good long while until that pressure wore off and nobody seemed to care anymore if I was part of the fandom, I decided to read Divergent. I didn’t have any expectations for it because I knew nothing about it ~ I was simply allowing myself to drop into this world as a spectator to see what all the fuss was about.

I liked this book better than the Hunger Games, but I don’t feel any real desire to read the rest of the series or buy the book itself. I look forward to watching the movie since I’ve heard that it’s pretty close to the book, but I don’t expect a change in emotion about that either.

While this wasn’t a terribly pretty book, it did have several good points and I liked the psychological aspect of it regarding fear. I liked how fear and bravery were basically the main point of the book, and I have no doubt that it’s one of the reasons people like it so much. The fandom probably repeats “I am brave” to itself on a regular basis ~ and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Novels are designed for us to fall in love with the characters and use them as a sort of role model. And if you can convince yourself that you’re brave, chances are you’ll find the part of you that always has been.

One thing that disappointed me ~ and this is no one’s fault ~ is that this book is similar to a story I was planning on writing. Darn. I guess I’ll just have to give mine a few twists.

Tris seemed terribly similar to Katniss Everdeen, so that’s probably one of the reasons why the two series are so beloved by most people. They’re also written very similar. It wasn’t my preferred main character template or writing style, which is probably why I didn’t like these two series as much.

Each of the factions were given a name that is actually a real word, not just one made up for the book. Though I didn’t know a few of these words when I started reading it, I assumed they were all words because “dauntless” is a word, and I thought it would be strange for that one to be the only one. That would be fairly obvious, wouldn’t it?

Abnegation prized selflessness. It focused on looking out for others rather than yourself, and they were at the top of the government because the members were most trusted not to do anything underhanded out of greed. The members wore the same clothes so as not to draw attention to themselves, and didn’t look in the mirror so they wouldn’t be vain (which I think is a good thing for us to practice. Go a week without looking in the mirror even once. I dare you. After awhile, you realize that what you look like really isn’t all that important).

Amity prized kindness. It focused on loving others, which, if you look at it, is really the same thing as selflessness. (More on intertwining factions later.) The members helped each other and were kind and friendly to everyone.

Candor prized honesty. It focused on having no secrets. I think transparency is also a good thing for us to have, but it takes time and practice to get to that point. The initiates were actually required to get hooked up to a truth machine and tell all of their secrets before they became full members. It’s pretty freeing when you have nothing to hide.

Dauntless prized bravery. It focused on abolishing fear, learning to fight, and protecting the other factions. The members were wild and did things the other factions wouldn’t (for some reason, as if taking risks is not something you do when you are selfless or kind), and they were often tattooed and pierced (also odd, because I don’t see how that is considered brave).

Erudite prized knowledge. It focused on study and accumulation of know-how. The members carried books around and huddled in small groups for debate and invention.

What we can learn from this book is how important each of the factions are in ourselves, and how much all of us need to be Divergent. It was even mentioned once that the factions put each other’s values below their own to make themselves look superior, rather than recognizing the importance of those values to keep society running smoothly and stay unified.

“Do you ask me that because you think I’ll actually answer?”

“Why do you say vague things if you don’t want to be asked about them?”

A-to-the-MEN. I know people who say vague things that hint at stories that would probably be great fun to listen to (although this might be just because I love stories so much). I think that those people are WANTING you to ask them to elaborate. I know I’ve done it, and it’s been out of loneliness, which is why I think most people do it. If they were trying to brag, they would just say the whole thing then and there, wouldn’t they? But since I feel like I’m alone in the world, I say things that invite an inquiry that will give me the opportunity to share something of my life with someone, just for the beauty of being known by another human. And this is coming from a mostly-unsociable, emotionally-confused, socially-impaired introvert, so you know it’s legit.

-No one else says anything, though a few of them give me sidelong glances like they’re sizing me up. The Dauntless-born initiates are like a pack of dogs. If I act the wrong way, they won’t let me run with them. But for now, I am safe.-

Have I mentioned posses on my blog yet? This is what it’s like when you try to join one. You have to earn their acceptance, and sometimes even their attention. But when I read this quote, I thought to myself, If I have to act a certain way to be accepted, then maybe I don’t WANT to run with them. Is it better to be with a pack if you have to conform to all their rules? Or is it better to go it alone, and know for sure that you’re making the most of what you have, without having to worry about “doing it right”?

I think of climbing the stairs with the Abnegation, our feet finding the same rhythm, all of us the same. This isn’t like that. We are not the same. But we are, somehow, one.-

There is very little cooler than recognizing your differences and just not caring much about them ~ prizing them, even. When you come to accept the differences as well as the similarities you share with a person, you begin to realize that those differences can be beneficial ~ just look at the Avengers. They’re all different, with different skills and capabilities, and yet they make the perfect team. They are one.

-I don’t need any of them, not if they’re going to react this way when I do well. If I can make it through initiation, I will be Dauntless, and I won’t have to see them anymore.

I don’t need them ~ but do I want them? Every tattoo I got with them is a mark of their friendship, and almost every time I have laughed in this dark place was because of them. I don’t want to lose them. But I feel like I have already.-

I ask myself this on a regular basis. I could go it alone ~ but do I want to? There’s something to be cherished in companionship (these are the things you find out when you don’t have it): being able to share your victories and your problems, the beauty of trust and loyalty, a mutual bond. These things are precious and they should be treated as such (though I think they aren’t nearly as much as they should be).

Recognizing all this, looking back at the memories you’ve shared, and questioning where you stand now kindles a nostalgic fear in a person. What if they weren’t there anymore? What if you lost them? What if you have already? The worst thing in the world is looking at a person as time goes on and feeling yourself slowly fading from their mind.

-“Mom used to say that politeness is deception in pretty packaging.”-

Being polite is a good thing, in most situations. But it does tend to hide your emotions. Being polite to someone that angers your soul is definitely deception, we just don’t tend to think of it that way. We think of it as being kind, of doing the right thing. But it is still deception.

I’m not saying not to be polite. I can’t think of a way to explain to you what I’m saying. Should you be polite, even though it’s deceptive, or should you not be polite if you’re dealing with someone that irks you? I don’t know.

-“Sometimes I forget that I can hurt you. That you are capable of being hurt.”-

Going along with that previous thought a little bit, we are often so caught up in our own lives that we do things without giving thought to what it might do to others. They LOOK okay, but you can’t see feelings, can you? (What I mean is, you can see emotion, but not the feelings themselves, and people can be quite good at hiding them.) So you do things, assuming they’ll be fine, that they won’t take it personally, but sometimes they do and you just can’t see it. That’s why we need to be more aware of what we say and do, especially in the form of joking and sarcasm. Sometimes the most meaningless and playful jibes can hurt the most. The tongue is the sharpest of swords.

-“But becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it, THAT’S the point.”-

Nobody likes fear. Well, almost everyone. I kind of like it because I see it as an opponent to be defeated, and I enjoy the challenge of overcoming my fears. (In most cases.) Nobody can be completely fearless, and that’s okay. We’re all human, right? (Though some of us don’t like to admit it…) But sometimes you don’t HAVE to abolish your fear. All you have to do is learn to control it. Allowing yourself to be terrified for five seconds is a good tactic. Just close your eyes and let yourself be as scared as you can possibly imagine as you count to five. Then open your eyes and defy everything you’ve just felt. Give yourself twenty seconds of tethered fear, and you might just change your life. And the first time is always the hardest.

-“Selflessness and bravery aren’t that different.”-

What is really good for us to take away from the book is how well the factions fit into each other. We can’t be selfless without being kind, we can’t be kind without being honest, we can’t be honest without being brave, and we can’t be brave without being knowledgeable (that is, knowing the risks we’re taking) and selfless (choosing to put ourselves in danger for the good of someone else). They were trying to make it look like you can only be one of those things, when in reality they all go together. That’s probably why there were so many Divergent popping up.

Selflessness is a choice, and forsaking yourself for the good of someone else is incredibly brave and incredibly kind. In the same way, bravery can be used for your own good, but it’s usually for the good of someone else. You can be kind to someone, but not without giving them a thought rather than giving it to yourself. And sometimes, being kind goes against the grain, which takes a great amount of courage. Selflessness, bravery, and kindess go hand-in-hand; they’re like three strands in a braid.

-I believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.-

There it is, right in the book: selflessness and bravery go together just like a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. There is no greater courage than when you’re using it to protect someone else. Heroes do not become heroes by looking out for themselves.

-“It’s easy to be brave when they’re not my fears.”-

And this is the reason why you should be brave for others. What they’re facing is terrifying to them, but not to you. Their fear in that situation cripples them and clouds their judgment, which is why they need you so badly in that moment. Since you don’t share that fear, you’re in a better position to combat it. And sometimes they don’t even need your assistance in defeating it ~ they just need you to lend moral support.

-Human reason can excuse any evil; that is why it’s so important that we don’t rely on it.-

The one thing the human race as a whole is really good at is making excuses. All of us are adept at it, and we use it sometimes without even thinking about it. If something seems bad, we make up “good things” about it to “justify” it. The issue is, though, that it doesn’t actually make it any better. Convincing ourselves that it’s okay actually makes it worse.

-At home I used to spend calm, pleasant nights with my family. My mother knit scarves for the neighborhood kids. My father helped Caleb with his homework. There was a fire in the fireplace and peace in my heart, as I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, and everything was quiet.

I have never been carried around by a large boy, or laughed until my stomach hurt at the dinner table, or listened to the clamor of a hundred people all talking at once. Peace is restrained; this is free.-